It’s something a kid likely invented. That was my first thought when recently serving our grandkids this iconic frozen treat. Turns out, I was right! Read on to see how it happened: the popsicle!
The frozen popsicle has been known by various names over the years: ice lolly, ice pop, freezer pop, and even fantastic frozen fun sticks! (That last one is what my grandkids like to call them!) There are many other names, too, because this simple treat is known all over the world today.
The story of the frozen popsicle begins in the early 1900s. An 11-year-old boy, Frank Epperson, is credited with accidentally inventing the first version of the popsicle. Frank mixed a powdered fruit-flavored drink with water and left it outside on a freezing cold night. He forgot to remove the stirring stick from the drink and by morning, the mixture had frozen solid around the stick. Frank removed the frozen treat from the cup and discovered he could eat the flavored ice simply by holding onto the stick!
Frank initially called his invention the “Epsicle,” a combination of his last name, Epperson, and “icicle.” The young entrepreneur began making and selling the Epsicles at local fairs and community events. Later, in 1923, when Frank was an adult with children of his own, he finally patented the Epsicle and started producing them on a larger scale.
Frozen treat goes national
The popularity of the Epsicle grew rapidly. In 1924, Frank sold the rights to his invention to the Joe Lowe Company, a New York-based manufacturer of ice cream novelties. The Joe Lowe Company renamed the frozen treat the Popsicle and began marketing it across the United States.
Tweaks, variations, and mass production
Over the years, the Popsicle underwent several improvements and variations. The original Popsicle was a simple fruit-flavored treat on a stick, but new flavors were introduced to cater to different tastes and preferences.
In the 1950s and ’60s, advancements in technology allowed for the mass production of Popsicles. New machinery and techniques made it possible to produce them at a faster rate, meeting the growing demand for the frozen treats.
In recent decades, Popsicles have continued to evolve, with manufacturers introducing new flavors, colors, and shapes. Some Popsicles are now made with real fruit juices, are sugar-free, and contain minimum calories. Other Popsicles incorporate novelty ingredients like sprinkles, flavored coatings, and even gummy worms. (Hmm. Call me a purist, but I think I’ll pass on the ones with worms.)
The Popsicle has become an iconic symbol of summertime refreshment—and now you know how it happened.
Tip: Gently poke the popsicle stick into the bottom of a cupcake liner. The wrapper will catch drips and your hands will be less sticky! For more unusual uses for cupcake liners check here.
Do you ever wonder about how a common product first came into existence? Let me know and I’ll look into the product’s origin. As for me, I’m suddenly craving a fantastic frozen fun stick!